Culture, Life

The Dragon in the Room

Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery. ~ Bari Weiss, American opinion writer and editor, in her resignation letter (July 14, 2020) to The New York Times

National Gallery of Slovenia / Public domain

My ability to write what I want has been bogged down of late by an overwhelming sense of grief over a nation coming apart at the seams. It’s not that I am entirely surprised or confused. It was only a matter of time before the poisoned minds churned out by our Marxist-run educational systems would come of age at companies like The New York Times.

Their training has been nothing like that of past journalists, in fact they seem to be perfect strangers to the principles of journalism. They know nothing about objectivity, fairness, nor the difference between factual reports and opinion pieces. They are there to enforce an orthodoxy of truth from on high, and they accomplish this through censorship of dissenting opinions and points of view. Bari Weiss reminded us that The New York Times, under the leadership of former owner Adolph Ochs, reached its high mark under his ambition “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

Now all of that has been chucked by modern Jacobins positioning themselves for a Reign of Terror via the new culture of censorship and cancellation.

This is why Bari Weiss, a “centrist” in her words, needed bravery to go to a normal job. A “centrist,” by general definition, falls within the very broad bell curve of opinion common to the ordinary, rank-and-file citizen. When the middle of the bell curve is mocked and persecuted at The New York Times, something has gone terribly wrong. It means The Times has lost touch with plain vanilla citizenry and with America herself. How can they speak to us when they despise most of us?

There is a dragon in the room.

Let me offer a very broad brush stroke (for there are so many tails to grab on this dragon) that ties in with what this website is about: mind and heart, ideas and beauty, purpose and meaning. All of these honor the value of human person, and these are the things that make life worth the living, whatever your politics, ethnicity, profession, or interests. Forcing others to believe your “truth” or point of view, and silencing all other voices dishonors the very baseline of our governmental ideal that all persons have moral value. If you do not believe this, then you do not truly care about people–you are only a posturer with too much time on your hands. Get a real job.

One (among many) aspects of the new culture is the pre-eminence of feelings as the arbiter of all truth. Feelings, like opinions, seem to run in tribes these days. I believe a lot of this started in the 1960s as the restraints of duty and responsibility were thrown off in favor of self-expression. A lot of pop psychology coming out then was based on subjective feelings, and many self-help groups cropped up for the purpose of exploring the hidden truths in feelings. At the same time, real injustices were coming to the fore, and I especially remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I attended a three-day seminar on 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one time and was struck by something that Stephen Covey said about his research into the literature of success. (Sorry to say I do not have his exact words.) He discovered that practically all of the literature before the 20th century had to do with character. After that time the literature focused on technique, not character. Ouch. So now I’m thinking about that “character” mentioned by Dr. King. It seems the conversation is all about numbers, festering wounds, who owes what to whom, political labels, and the color of skin. Character is not even in the national conversation, is it?

Keeping us focused on feelings makes us targets for guilt, manipulation, and gaslighting. It makes us unreasonable and unreasoning. Change agents know that, of course, and that’s why they create drama. It’s a lot harder to manipulate people of character.

Does that mean feelings are worthless? No. But they aren’t “truth” in and of themselves. And, to be honest, except for the genuine self-help group trying to heal its members, the world at large doesn’t really care how you feel. It only pretends to. What’s important is that you understand how you feel and why. But don’t mistake it as absolute truth. And don’t mistake other people’s feelings and offenses as absolute truth either.

I know a lot of people struggle with fear in this cancel culture. No one knows where the dragon will strike next; it is out of the corral. I was brought up to believe that “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1) But I found out that people can ruin your good name even if you don’t deserve it. They can take away that “loving favour” after they destroy your good name. But you know what they can’t take? Your character, your self-worth, your affirmation of the good and the holy. What is eternal cannot be killed.

If you live in fear, you are a slave. “It’s better to die free, than live as a slave.” Those words are usually attributed to ex-slave and social reformer Frederick Douglass, and he must have known.

 

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